7 June 2017

Africa: UN Africa Forum Launches High-Level Migration Panel to Help Create Political Momentum for Change

Amid growing concern for the safety of migrants, particularly in Africa, as they undertake extreme risks in hopes of a better future or to escape violence and persecution, a high-level body established by the United Nations development arm in the continent has launched a process to help forge political consensus to address challenges and save lives.

Furthermore, border control measures and stringent policies also prevent Africa from realizing the benefits of migration, underscored Abdalla Hamdok, the Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the launch of the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa.

"Travel in Africa by Africans is curtailed by stringent visa requirements, excessive border controls and immigration restrictions," said Mr. Hamdok, noting that it not only increased costs, but multiplied the risks that migrants are forced to undertake.

"Data shows that less than three per cent of Africa's population have migrated internationally and less than 12 per cent of the total migrant [population] in Europe are from Africa," he added.

On top of this, the issue of safe migration for the continent given that every year, thousands of migrants perish while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach mainland Europe.

"Just last week, some forty young men and women died of thirst in the Sahara Desert, while trying to reach Europe," said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who also chairs the High-Level Panel.

Maureen Achieng from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also shared this view.

"Migration from Africa towards other regions is taking place in a much lower level than one might think," she said.

The 14-member High-Level Panel was established in April last year by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to push migration issues to the top of policy agenda by engaging major stakeholders and partners.

Over the next few months, it will hold consultations at the national, regional and global levels and propose recommendations on building and sustaining broad political consensus on the implementation of the international migration development agenda, while taking into account the particular challenges of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The report will be submitted to the African Union Summit in July 2018.

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